What’s your favourite story?
Christmas has long gone, but I have to confess that I think that I’d watched five different versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol over the Christmas holidays! There is something hopeful in the story, that somehow Scrooge this self-indulgent, controlling, some might say narcissistic man changes. We see a softer, more compassionate, and generous man appreciating the value of family and relationship.
And we can wonder, when not in the land of fairytales and myth does change happen so quickly?
Does change last?
Scrooge’s change is born out of abject terror, fear of death, and what awaits him in the darkness of the afterlife. So his transformation isn’t quite what it seems; there’s an edge to this character’s spiritual awakening. Scrooge’s selfishness isn’t perhaps too far away. His story seems so simple, but it’s not; it’s complicated.
So what does Scrooge have to do with you and your life?
Well, A Christmas Carol, is a story.
You have a story. Your story matters. And when you begin to tell the story of your life, change can finally start to happen.
If you don’t see that your story matters, chances are no one else will either. So even if it isn’t always easy, it’s important for you to find the strength to share the truth. Because the world deserves to hear it. Michelle Obama
I would add, you deserve to hear it.
Telling Your Story
If you’re thinking of starting counselling in 2020, one of the first questions I am usually asked is, “What do I do in counselling?” My response is; tell your story.
Counselling is a space for storytelling.
Long before Freud, Jung, or Assagioli, many cultures had an oral tradition of telling stories. Generations passed down the stories of the ancestors, memories, trauma, joy, connection, change, and their experience of rites of passage, grief and loss. This is precisely what happens in counselling; you tell your story because, however, painful your story is a gift.
Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes perhaps one of the worlds greatest poets and storyteller says:
Though fairy tales end after ten pages, our lives do not. We are multi-volume sets. In our lives, even though one episode amounts to a crash and burn, there is always another episode awaiting us and then another. There are always more opportunities to get it right, to fashion our lives in the ways we deserve to have them.
And we are living in a new storytelling culture, which interprets experience through the narratives of novels, films, songs, podcasts, and let’s not forget social media. You can add Instagram Stories to share all the moments of your day. Your life story can unfold in multiple photos and videos in a slideshow format, just like a 1920’s movie reel.
You might think you’re already telling your story by sharing on social media, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
It is good to remember that storytelling’s original genre existed long before Facebook or Instagram. Storytelling starts with a voice, a sound. We talked about stories long before they were written down.
Social media gives a perfect temporary illusion; it’s like the persona. Storytelling involves engaging with our shadow, our shame, and our vulnerability
Your Story Has Depth
A Christmas Carol is an archetypal story. It tells the story of what happens when someone listens to what the soul and psyche are saying. The story is told through dreams and other signals. And being curious about other stories can help to make meaning of your own.
I use myths and stories a lot in my counselling sessions because they help clients understand their own. What might Echo in her relationship with Narcissus have to share about your tendency to mute your voice? Or perhaps Persephone’s mistreatment and abuse by Hades tell you about your relationship. When we listen to stories with curiosity and care, we often find hidden meaning for our day to day struggles.
Your soul is always inviting you to become familiar with and listen to your story.
When you approach a traffic light, you know green means go, red means stop, and amber means take care. Your story gives you similar guidance and information. Just as you need traffic lights and signals in your outer world when you know your story, it guides you to your inner world. Sometimes the message is loud, at other times subtle and muted, but it is always there.
Relationships, Food, Sex, And Other Chapters
Some dreams we can’t forget, and others fade away as soon as our feet hit the ground. It’s great when we can remember them they are rich with information. But we have other signals in our life.
These might be:
- A series of difficult unfulfilling relationships
- A deadening long term relationship
- An affair
- Unhealthy relationships with alcohol or drugs
- A low libido
- A challenging relationship with food
- A complicated relationship with a parent, sibling or child
- Judging or being judged
- Regular conflict
- Stress-related illnesses
- People pleasing
- Imposter syndrome
Take Charge of Your Life And Tell Your Story
I believe it’s challenging to make a lasting change in your life unless you understand your story.
Your story is part of you.
When you don’t understand it, deny it or are cut off from it, it’s as if you’re the author stuck in the middle of the book with writers’ block writing the same chapter over and over again. You’ll find it challenging to break habits; you’ll keep having the same experience but perhaps in a different context or develop unhealthy addictive habits.
Most of all, shame will be the unconscious editor of your life. Shame will be accompanied by your wounded inner child tearing out or scribbling over the pages it doesn’t like.
Telling Your Story Changes Things
Things change when you tell your story. It takes a little longer than three days, but change comes, and it can last. Here are six reasons why this happens.
- You give yourself a voice, maybe for the first time, and that’s powerful.
- You are seen and heard. Research tells us that’s important.
- You validate your hurt.
- You start the healing process.
- You grieve, whatever you need to, including what was missing, and the parts of the story you wished had been different.
- You get to imagine a new end filled with understanding and possibility. When you can do that, you can take steps to walk along a different path.
I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories… water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Yes, therapy is about learning tools to make life better. Mindfulness, reparenting the inner child, grounding and many more tools will fill your toolbox. But primarily it’s about telling your story.
You own the rights to your story. Should you choose to share, I look forward to hearing it.
Over To You
How well do you know your story? What the most recent chapter about, and how does it make you feel? If you want a safe space to talk, figure out your feelings, understand your story and how it shapes your relationships, get in touch, and book your first counselling appointment.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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© Sandra Harewood 2020
Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship.